As one of the few holistic nursing coaches in Berks County, Sherri Mathews practices what she preaches.
In 2016, after having worked as a registered nurse for more than 30 years, she began to explore holistic and natural approaches to addressing her own health problems.
Little did she know that taking a course from nutrition and wellness consultant Whitney George would lead her to a retired career in an area she didn’t even know existed – where they not only help themselves, but she can also do what she likes best: helping others.
Mathews changed her diet, focused more on whole foods (she still eats meat but has significantly increased the amount of vegetables she eats), and cut out on added sugar. She found out she was gluten intolerant through an elimination diet, then discovered that she was genetically predisposed to celiac disease, and may have had it for many years, so she eliminated gluten-containing foods from her diet.
She lost 20 pounds without trying.
“It’s just amazing,” she said. “Since then, I’ve been thinking, ‘Well, that’s how I have to be because I’ve felt so much better.’ I convinced my husband to be the same. He’s lost 30 pounds. “
The 60-year-old resident of the Mühlenberg township feels rejuvenated, vital and full of energy to devote herself to her children and grandchildren thanks to her new diet and the resulting lifestyle changes that inspired her new discovery.
Through her Wellness Potential company, part of Downtown Wellness Berks, a network of health-conscious professionals committed to improving the quality of life in the community, she enjoys sharing her discoveries with others to help them find their own way to healthier and more fulfilling lives to help existence.
So that her clients don’t feel overwhelmed by the challenges of changing their lifestyle, Mathews values small changes that can ultimately lead to big improvements.
She takes a holistic – or whole people – approach, which means that she focuses equally on the body, mind, emotions, and spirit for general wellbeing and averting problems before they can even start.
Here their offer differs greatly from conventional medicine, in which doctors and nursing staff tend to concentrate on specialized treatment areas and less on prevention after existing health problems.
The concept is actually nothing new. Mathews said even Florence Nightingale was considered a holistic nurse in the 1850s because she looked at the whole environment of healing.
“Our medical system has a doctor for your heart, a doctor for your kidneys, a doctor for your head,” she said. “But when it comes to the holistic (care), we consider the whole person and not individual parts, and everything is connected. There is a connection with your body and mind, and in fact, your thoughts matter to your health. When you have a lot of negative thoughts, it is difficult to be a healthy person. “
Mathews said her diet is a stepping stone into other wellness modalities such as yoga, mindfulness meditation, guided imagery, energy healing such as Reiki and, more recently, Qi Gong, an ancient Chinese exercise and healing technique that includes meditation. controlled breathing and movement exercises.
All of this was done to balance Mathews.
“I felt a sense of well-being for myself, and I felt that I could cope with the bumps in the road that occur in everyday life, not react negatively and give myself some space,” she said. “When I felt that I was reacting negatively to something, I had tools that I could use (like breath work) that I could just pause and give myself the chance to be in my body instead of my head.
“And I just felt more relaxed and calmer when life threw things at me, as it does with everyone.”
She said during the pandemic, while so many people were scared of the changes around them, she felt like her holistic practices kept her on a more even keel.
“I wasn’t scared very much and I felt like no matter what happened I could handle it,” she said. “It’s more about mind and body being one and speaking in a way that keeps them in balance. When I have stress, I can deal with it better than before. “
She said she also had more energy and announced, “I don’t really mind that I’m 60 years old. It’s just a number. I can keep up with my grandchildren. “
She is not alone in her thinking about age. A few years ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared 65 years old to be young based on research on the age of 65.
Of course, taking good care of your whole being goes a long way in making you feel young. Mathews has seen its effects on friends and acquaintances.
“As for aging, I think I have a lot of nurse friends and nurses in the holistic field, some are in their late 70s and they are so alive and full of vitality that it is amazing to me,” she said. “So I have good role models and I just want to be a role model too. I don’t want to see aging as a negative. It’s a positive thing. You gain more wisdom. I am a very curious person. I try to keep up with all the current knowledge about health – and especially holistic health. “
Mathews has outlined a few steps people can take to start a wellness course including eating right, avoiding toxins, exercising, exercising in nature, walking daily, keeping the mind active, being non-prejudiced and being part of a community.
“You can’t change all at once,” she said. “They are baby steps. You have to take it a little bit at a time. “
She encourages patients to keep a nutritional-mood-activity diary to document how their diet affects their feelings.
She also suggested that if you feel that you cannot do it on your own, it is okay – and even best – to seek help.
Downtown Wellness Berks’ initiative, which she has been a part of since its inception a few years ago, includes local practitioners from all walks of life in the wellness community.
The list of members posted on downtownwellnessberks.com includes the first person Mathews reached on her trip, George, whom she is grateful to.
“It made a huge difference in how I felt and it went like a snowball from then on, which was great,” said Mathews, “and I thank Whitney for that.”
It was also the inspiration for the next phase of life.
“My life’s work is to help others on their way to health and wellbeing,” she says. “It is fun. It’s what I love to do. That’s why I’m doing it as a kind of withdrawal from my previous care career in a conventional setting. “
Look out for # 1
Mathews said an important key for her is making yourself a top priority because she has learned that there is really no one you can take care of unless you take care of yourself first.
“Getting me to the top of the list was a big aha moment,” she said, “and that’s what I had to do to get where I am now. That’s a big thing about aging, you have to be kind and compassionate to yourself. “
And while you’re at it, don’t be afraid to pat yourself on the back if you deserve it, she advised, “When you see small successes, build on each small success and celebrate every small success. It’s a journey; we are all on a journey. “
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